Wednesday Briefing: Michael Cohen Faced Donald Trump’s Lawyers

Wednesday Briefing: Michael Cohen Faced Donald Trump’s Lawyers

By Oghale May14,2024

The testimony from Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer, is a linchpin in the Manhattan case against the former president. Here’s the latest.

Yesterday, Cohen returned to the stand. Lawyers for the Manhattan district attorney’s office have told the judge that he will be their last witness. On the stand, Cohen described to jurors a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels as an effort to influence the 2016 election “on behalf of Mr. Trump.”

After that, he faced Trump’s legal team. In a barrage of questions, they sought to portray Cohen as an opportunist. Trump’s lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, pressed Cohen about his social media posts, his efforts to monetize his connection to the former president, his own criminal history and his desire to see Trump behind bars.

“Do you want President Trump to get convicted in this case?” Blanche asked.

“Sure,” Cohen replied.

Blanche emphasized Cohen’s television appearances and insult-slinging online — all of which he did in defiance of the prosecution’s wishes and at Trump’s expense. He also noted that Cohen maintains a financial interest in attacking Trump, arguing that he cashed in on their feud with a podcast and books.

Analysis: The defense seemed to be trying to portray Cohen as “essentially, Trump’s stalker,” my colleague Maggie Haberman wrote — a man once obsessed with the former president who was now equally obsessed with getting revenge.

What’s next: Trump’s lawyers indicated that they could call an expert witness and that they had not decided if they would call Trump himself.

Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, made a surprise visit to Kyiv yesterday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and reaffirm U.S. support for the country.

Blinken’s trip comes at a challenging time in the war effort for Kyiv, and Russia’s recent military gains in northeastern Ukraine hung over his visit. The Biden administration had warned for months that Congress’s delay in approving the recent $60.8 billion aid package would leave the Ukrainians vulnerable.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is expected to go to China later this week to visit Xi Jinping, China’s leader. The visit will test their “no limits” partnership, which the two autocrats declared more than two years ago to push back against U.S. interference.

But Xi is on a shrinking tightrope: International pressure is mounting for him to curtail Chinese support for Russia and its war. As for Putin, he might be trying to evaluate Xi’s appetite for risk as he tries to deter Western nations from more actively supporting Ukraine.

Other updates:

The move is an effort to protect strategic U.S. industries from competitors that Biden says are unfairly subsidized by Beijing. In a shift, he also endorsed keeping the tariffs on more than $300 billion worth of Chinese goods that were put in place by Trump. During his 2020 campaign, Biden criticized Trump’s trade war. In office, he has escalated it. But where Trump promised to bring back factory jobs, Biden has focused instead on emerging high-tech industries.

China: Heavy manufacturing subsidies — coupled with weak domestic sales — are how China came to dominate the global market in solar panels and electric cars.

Britain’s butlers are changing. These days, buttling (yes, that’s a verb) is less polishing silver and more concierge-style lifestyle management — akin to a private maitre d’.

And while aristocrats wanted them to act like furniture, new-money entrepreneurs see them more like a flashy accessory.

Lives lived:

Netiporn Sanesangkhom: A prominent Thai pro-democracy activist, she died of cardiac arrest after a monthslong hunger strike in prison. She was 28.

Alice Munro: The Canadian writer and Nobel laureate, who was widely considered a master of the short story, has died. She was 92.

New York City’s streets have always bustled, but lately, they’re almost dangerously unlivable.

Residents clash over traffic, parking and heaps of trash. Cars and taxis vie for space as buses swerve to avoid trucks parked in bike lanes. E-bikes are everywhere. Far fewer pedestrians get killed by motorists these days, but last year was the deadliest for cyclists since 1999.

“All of this stuff is trying to fit into a grid that was designed in 1811,” my colleague Dodai Stewart explains in a video. Relief may be on the way: The city is about to enact the first congestion pricing plan in the U.S., which would charge most drivers $15 to enter much of Manhattan below 60th Street.

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By Oghale

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